Slain honeymooner Anni Dewani wanted out of her marriage to British businessman husband Shrien in 2010, her cousin told the Western Cape High Court on Monday. Sneha Mashru, the State’s seventh witness, was adamant that she and Anni were like sisters and that Anni often confided in her about the rocky relationship.
Francois van Zyl, for Shrien Dewani, seemed to offer a different version during cross-examination and said that while the couple fought, they loved each other dearly. He asked Mashru whether the marriage was arranged or whether they got engaged because they loved each other.
She responded that Anni had her doubts about the marriage and together they composed an e-mail to Shrien in which she explained her doubts.
The couple also had conversations on the phone, in which he promised to be less controlling.
Mashru said it was not an arranged marriage and they went ahead with their engagement after that contact because she thought he would change his ways. Van Zyl asked whether Anni loved Shrien.
“Yes, she did, in the beginning. The way he was in the beginning, she did love him,” she replied.
Mashru said the couple had their issues leading up to their wedding in October 2010 but that she still loved him. However, she said they had a lot of problems.
“That is why after the wedding, when they came back from India, Anni and I were talking about a divorce because she felt like she could not live with Shrien,” Mashru said.
She apparently did not want to go to South Africa with Shrien, and Mashru convinced her to go, promising her she would transfer money to her Swedish bank account if she needed a way out. Mashru said that even after they had married in India, Anni wanted to spend her time with her and not her husband.
Van Zyl said his client would testify that both families had to pack 29 suitcases, weighing 225 kilograms, of goods from the wedding and that Anni assisted her husband and relatives. Her cousin replied that she told Anni to spend time with Shrien and his family because she was a Dewani but that she had not been keen. The two went for massages and spent time at the pool, catching up on their lives. Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso asked her why she was not keen.
“Anni told me that they didn’t get on very well and she told me this while we were at the pool. She went to have lunch with him and then she came back to the pool and said ‘it felt very stiff between us’.”
Mashru had earlier told the court that a few days before the marriage, she and Anni had gone to visit Shrien in an Indian hospital because he was ill.
She said Shrien had been very upset that they came to visit because he had ordered them not to. Anni and Shrien argued in the hospital while Mashru waited in the cab. Van Zyl said his client had food poisoning and that he had severe diarrhoea and vomiting.
“He was regularly soiling his bed. He didn’t want visitors at the time. He didn’t mind Anni at the time but he was upset when you arrived,” the lawyer said.
“A grown man soiling his own bed — that is what upset him.”
Mashru remained certain that Shrien was upset at seeing Anni in the hospital, not just her. Her cross-examination continues. SAPA